I don’t own Q-tips. I keep meaning to buy them so they are there for visitors, but I never remember. Inevitably my houseguests ask me how I clean my ears if I don’t have Q-tips, and I tell them the story. When I was a freshman in college, I was walking around my dorm room one morning cleaning my ears, undoubtedly also getting dressed, finishing an assignment, and packing my bag for the day—typical multi-tasking for a busy college student. In my haste, I lost my balance for a moment, and shoved (and I mean, shoved) the q-tip right into my ear. The pain was searing and unrelenting for the entire day. I ended up at the “infirmary” overnight (yes, that is what the health center at the University of Delaware used to be called) with a bruised eardrum. It was such an excruciating pain, I vowed I would never use a Q-tip again. Sure enough, 20 years have passed since then, and not a single Q-tip has entered my ears. But much more interesting, I have learned since then that Q-tips are not recommended by doctors as a way to clean ears anyway. In fact, ears don’t really need to be cleaned much at all. The naturally occurring wax keeps our ears waterproof (which is a handy feature) and also works to prevent ear infections because of its natural acidity. Q-tips remove that very wax which has a dutiful function for our ears, and also pose a significant eardrum damaging risk. And often times, when trying to remove ear wax because of build up, the Q-tip only pushes the wax further back into the ear canal, making this exercise of purported hygiene actually counterproductive. To keep maintain basic ear hygiene, simply use a warm washcloth and soap while in the shower.
1. So, Curbing Q-tip Usage is just one way we can change our daily lives to protect our ears and our hearing. Here are some other simple changes you can make for your ear health….
2. Turn Down the Music. You probably feel like you hear this piece of advice all the time, and often from us, but have you actually turned down the volume on your iTunes (or ClearSounds Audio App) when you’re working out? Your ears get used to the loud sound of your music, so don’t be discouraged when you first turn it down and think the music isn’t loud enough. Listen to it at a lower volume (no more than 60% of max volume) for a week and you may be surprised when your ears adjust to this new healthy norm.
3. Wear Ear plugs. Raise your hand if you even own any! Most people do not wear ear plugs when using garden machinery like lawn mowers and leaf blowers, but those loud sounds can damage your ears over time. And of course, we know all of our loyal readers are dutifully wearing ear plugs at concerts, right?
4. Add Omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Do you really need another reason? Omega 3s are already good for your joints, skin, bones, and even your lungs, and they help control your triglycerides (cholesterol). But omega 3s are also beneficial to your hearing health. And there is no need to take any more supplements. Omega 3s are found in a lot of wonderful foods, so just eat up, and feel good about it! Enjoy some salmon, enriched eggs, enriched dairy products, grass fed beef, edamame, walnuts and wild rice!
Carol Morabito is a professional business writer and editor with over 15 years of experience in the industry.
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